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Geology of the Solar System I: Introduction to Planetary and Lunar Geology


  • Credit value: 15 credits at Level 4
  • Tutor: Professor Ian Crawford
  • Assessment: a 2.5-hour written examination (85%) and one item of assessed work (15%)

Module description

The main objective of this module is to introduce you to the geological histories, and geological processes, of other planets and to illustrate how this knowledge has led to our current understanding of the origin and evolution of the Solar System. The course is designed to give you a basic introduction to planetary geology, with particular emphasis on the geology of the Moon.

You will learn how to construct geological maps from orbital images of terrestrial planets, and study meteorites and moon rocks, the latter in thin section using a petrographic microscope.

Indicative module content

  • Introduction to the Solar System
  • Techniques of Planetary Exploration
  • Planetary Interiors
  • Planetary Surfaces
  • Impact Cratering
  • Introduction to Lunar Geology
  • Lunar Rocks and Minerals
  • Lunar Dating and Stratigraphy
  • Lunar Geophysics
  • Origin and Geological Evolution of the Moon

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • understand the basic geology and geophysics of the other planets
  • understand the various techniques used to acquire geological knowledge of other planets
  • understand our current knowledge of the origin and evolution of the Moon and its implications for understanding of other rocky planets
  • understand scientific hypothesis development and testing
  • relate specific knowledge to a broader context
  • analyse and interpret planetary remote sensing data
  • interpret images and maps
  • create maps
  • transfer geological knowledge gained in the context of the Earth to a wide range of different planetary environments
  • demonstrate knowledge of the specific aspects of planetary and lunar geology
  • understand how this knowledge has been arrived at, and the relationship between theories, hypotheses and observations in the planetary sciences.